Photo via HyperionPixels/Getty Images (Licensed)
In news any person who has ever read the comments section is celebrating, an Australian man has pleaded guilty to “using a carriage service to menace, harass, or offend”—aka trolling a woman he didn’t know on Facebook. He now faces three years in jail. Are you listening, MensRightsForever6969?
In August 2015, Zane Alchin, 25, posted violent and threatening comments to a number of women, but it was Paloma Brierley Newton who screenshotted the encounters and took them to police. The comments were in response to a screenshot of Newton’s friend’s Tinder profile, which was posted to Facebook by another man.
Alchin posted 55 comments in total, with gems like “I’d rape you if you were better looking but I wouldn’t fuck you a nimbus.” When Newton asked him to stop, he asked, “What law am I breaking?” Well, apparently, section 474.17 of Australia’s Commonwealth Criminal Code Act. Lol.
Like many men who scramble to find excuses for their behavior other than “rape culture” and “male entitlement,” Alchin blamed his behavior on being drunk, and claimed the women were the ones harassing him.
Newton said in a statement, “I think that by standing up and saying he’s guilty of a crime, it can put an end to all the backlash of ‘This is just the internet, it isn’t a crime.’”
Newton also noted that this case was "the first of its kind" in Australia, and "a landmark victory for opponents of online harassment."
In the U.S., online harassment laws vary from state to state, with some anti-harassment laws covering cyberbullying. However, last year the Supreme Court threw out charges against Anthony Elonis, who posted violent lyrics he had written about his estranged wife on Facebook. Justice John Roberts wrote that the lyrics, which caused Elonis' ex-wife to get a restraining order against him, wouldn’t strike fear into a “reasonable person.” Some argued the decision would make it easier for online abusers to go unpunished.